By Justin Sink - 11/19/11 04:10 PM EST
Rick Perry doubled down on criticism that President Obama is a "socialist" and defended his campaign ads that critics say quotes the president out of context.
Perry, who has been struggling to regain his footing after a series of gaffes in the Republican debates, told Fox Host Bill O'Reilly that he "absolutely" thought Obama was a socialist.
"Yes, sir I think Barack Obama is a socialist. I think he believes that -- when you -- when you talk about printing money and -- and spending government money, and trying to spread it out as that conversation that he had with 'Joe the Plumber,' you know, kind of redistribute the wealth," Perry said.
"The best I can tell that's socialism."
Perry added that while he thinks Obama "cares for his country," he believes that "his policies are socialist."
O'Reilly also pressed Perry on an ad in which Perry denounces President Obama for saying that "we have been a little lazy" in attracting foreign investors.
In the context of his full remarks, Obama may be referring to the federal government, and encouraging trade policies that would bring investment to the United States. But Perry joined many conservatives in denouncing the comment. Perry's ad says, "Can you believe that? That's what our president thinks is wrong with America? That Americans are lazy? That's pathetic. It's time to clean house in Washington."
O'Reilly asked if Perry genuinely believed Obama was referring to individual Americans, rather than the government, as lazy.
"I think that's exactly what he is talking about. I think this is a man who really, if he believed that Americans were hard-working, that they were ready to ignite this economy, then we wouldn't have the tax policy. We wouldn't have the regulatory policies in place that are killing jobs in this country," Perry said.
In a separate interview on Fox Business channel, Perry rejected the idea that the election had gotten away from him with his debate gaffes, including an embarrassing moment where he could not remember the third cabinet-level department he would eliminate from the federal government.
“No, not at all. I mean we’re a long way from having the election over with. You can go back and look at history and whether it was the '92 election. when Bill Clinton was up and down and back and forth and you go back in time, even in 2008. So a long way before this election is over with. I will guarantee you, Iowa, South Carolina and even New Hampshire, those states are wide open,” Perry said.
But Perry admitted that the debate performance was less than ideal.
“Some of our debates were quite good and some of them weren’t so good. You gotta go up and perform and lay out your ideas. And actually we got in the race late," Perry said.